Penelope Spheeris (born December 2, 1945) is an American director, producer, and screenwriter.
Spheeris was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a Greek immigrant father who owned the Magic Empire Shows circus carnival and was a side-show strong man. Her mother was a ticket taker for a traveling circus side show. Spheeris is the sister of singer Jimmie Spheeris and the first cousin of musician Chris Spheeris and the Greek-French director Costa Gavras, whom she says makes her consider that there is something to the genetic aspects to the job description. Spheeris spent her first seven years traveling around the American South and American Midwest with her father's carnival. She majored in film and has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theater Arts from UCLA in Los Angeles, California.
Spheeris launched her career by producing short subjects for satirist Albert Brooks, many of them being highlights in the first season of the TV series Saturday Night Live. Her first feature film was The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), a punk rock documentary that she produced as well as directed. She followed up with The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, this time about the